You will never find self-fulfillment if you are struggling.
That is the lie I felt like we are all told. If we struggle, we cannot be happy and therefore cannot be fulfilled.
But the problem isn't the adversity itself, it is the way we look at it. We see struggle as bad and, to struggle is to fail. But it’s not.
To struggle is to progress, to learn, to improve, to grow.
Self-fulfillment is an elusive concept at the best of times but when faced with adversity, it seems near impossible to find. Life is hard, messy and doesn't ever seem to go the way we plan. Life just keeps getting in the way, seemingly throwing new obstacles for us to hurdle over in order to reach fulfillment but it's like with every hurdle, the finish line just gets further away.
We still search for self-fulfillment, that feeling of pure happiness and knowledge that we are doing the right thing at the right time. That feeling that no matter what, we added value into the world today and we are so proud of us.
In this article, you will discover what true fulfillment is, and how to achieve self-fulfillment even during tough times.
What Is Self-Fulfilment?
Self-fulfillment is the fulfilment of one's hopes and ambitions.
Sounds simple enough, to feel fulfilled, you have to achieve your hopes and ambitions and at a glance, that doesn't seem too hard. But isn't fulfillment just long term happiness?
Fulfillment vs Happiness
Fulfillment and happiness are not the same thing. Happiness is a temporary state, it happens and it goes away until the next thing makes you happy.
Fulfillment is much more long term, more about the bigger picture. To feel fulfilled doesn't mean to be happy and joyous all day long everyday. Some days are going to be bad, but if you are doing something you believe in, something you want to do be doing with all of your soul, you will be fulfilled.
It is not a feeling of happiness or sadness, it's an underlying feeling of complete love. You can love someone and still be annoyed at them, but you know you love them. That is fulfillment.
Why Is Self-Fulfillment Important?
You are reading this because you are struggling, you don’t feel like fulfilled in your life and you are looking for the answer that you’re missing.
When you feel fulfilled in your life, it's like you are never looking for the emergency escape door, and it is a delicate balance to get it right. When you do find it, you get that warm cosy feeling all the winter movies promise.
5 Steps to Create Self-Fulfillment in Times of Adversity
Here's how to create self-fulfillment in your life in the face of adversity:
1. Work out What Your Core Values Are
What are your core values and why are they important?
Our core values are the qualities we value most in the world; characteristics we admire or cherish in others.
If you meet someone and they are your type of person and you can't explain why, you have met someone whose core values are in alignment with yours. For example, if one of your core values is honesty, you will value and like an honest person. Just like if you meet a dishonest person, you will have an unspoken aversion to them.
But how do your core values affect your self-fulfillment?
Who you are defines how you will find fulfillment.
If you want to achieve all of your hopes and dreams, it is much easier to find out where to go if you have a road map. Your core values affect every decision, interaction and build up the person you call yourself. You can't feel fulfilled if you are doing something that goes in direct contradiction to them.
If you are an honest person and you are doing dishonest work, you will not be fulfilled and you will without doubt, be facing adversity within yourself.
How do you find your core values?
There are several ways to work out what your core values are but a quick way is to look at a list of them
and pick the ones you relate to the most.
The first key to fulfillment is to live in alignment with your core values, once you start to find them and make adjustments to your life to cut out anything that goes against them, your will start to find your adversity fading away as you embrace a life that you want.
2. Work out What Your Real Hopes and Ambitions Are
Notice I mean work out your own hopes and ambitions, not the ones you have been told to have.
Now you know what your core values are, you can move forward on working out what is it truly that you want to do. Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? Play a banjo in Bali for a living? Giving up your corporate life to start a charity? Or do you want to give up your charity to take a corporate job?
We all grew up being influenced by so many factors and people. None so more than our parental figures, who in most cases, only wanted the best for us. They told us who we were going to be so we could be successful and we didn't have to struggle as they struggled. But nowhere, down the line, did anyone actually stop to ask what you wanted and who you wanted to be?
We aren't born with the knowledge of what makes us feel fulfilled, we have to find it through trial and error but fear stops us from searching. At some point in our lives, we get ashamed for our interests and choices. To avoid pain, we conform to what the populus want us to do and we stop experimenting. Our dreams get confined to the back of our heads and life gets too busy for us to worry about them. We take the jobs we don't really care about and fill the void with fun activities, food and material goods because there is something in our hearts that is missing.
The dreams we have are the key to fulfillment.
If you want to feel like you are achieving your hopes and dreams, then you have to actually be doing something to do with your hopes and dreams, not the dreams you have been told to have because of fear.
3. Accept Your True Self
Whatever it is you want and whatever your core values are, you are never going to reach fulfillment without self-acceptance.
Who you are is who you are,
and there is nothing wrong with who you are.
Sure, you're not everyone's cup of tea. But I have some news for you, some people out there, don't like drinking tea. Most people drink turmeric lattes nowadays!
The reason we deny accepting ourselves as we are is because at some point or many points in our lives, someone has told us we aren't good enough, we aren't worthy and who we are is wrong.
To that person, that may have been true to them. But here is the long hidden secret about people, flaws are subjective. Your flaws that you have been criticized for aren't flaws at all, they are just incompatibilities with certain people. That flaw you were criticized for (shall we say Honesty), you were once too honest and someone told you it was bad. Someone else might appreciate your candor while you hung onto the negative that no one will like you if you're honest.
Your flaw is actually a benefit in the eyes of somebody else. Which means, you can't have flaws at all, you just have qualities that some other people don't like. Some people will and some people won't and that is okay.
Accept yourself for who you are, worts and all. You don't have to change the world to be important or special. But by embracing who you are and accepting yourself, you can change somebody's world.
4. Understand That Change Is Not Only Important but Inevitable
Fulfillment is fluid.
I have spent the first 2 steps telling you fulfilment is based on who you are and your core values but, can you honestly tell me you haven't changed?
You grow, learn new skills and unlock new possibilities, you level up. You are always changing, you grow new core values, your dreams and goals grow and evolve as you do.
A common adversity we face is our own obsession with avoiding change. We hate change, change isn't safe, survival instincts kick in and we don't know what could happen, we aren't prepared and we lose control.
The core of anxiety is our lack of ability to control the uncontrollable.
We hate change but one of the most dependable things in the world is that everything changes. We all change, all the time. We suddenly decide we like marmite now, we buy new hats to mix it up a bit. When we control the change, we are fine; but with the stuff we can't control, we go a little bananas.
But how is this relevant to self-fulfillment?
Well the thing about fulfillment is, it is the feeling of achieving your hopes, dreams and goals and they are always changing. By trying to hold onto your old self’s goals and thinking hitting them will make you feel fulfilled, is just silly.
You are evolving to become a new person all the time and you can't feel fulfilled if you are hitting someone else's dreams, hopes and goals. The old you is holding you back, it's time to let them go and embrace this new ever changing you.
Which leads us to the next step.
5. Understand That Fulfillment Comes from Living in the Moment, Not Hitting a Goal or a Task.
To be fulfilled, you have to embrace the journey, with all its ups and downs and all its adversity.
We have this idea that once we hit a goal, buy that house, marry that spouse, that is it, we will feel fulfilled forever. But fulfillment is deeply personal, it is a reflection of who you are and who you want to be. It's an ongoing process; it can't be achieved through one event.
You don't buy a house, have kids and get a dog and then just go Bam, Fulfilled Forever! That is not in human nature, humans are driven to constantly seek better and more. We are biologically programmed to do so, which means one event or one goal cannot possibly help us create fulfillment. Fulfillment has to be a daily process of embracing what you are doing and working towards your dream by offering value in a way that only you can.
You will always face adversity, but you don't always have to struggle while you face them. You have the opportunity to change your life at any time, change the adversity you are facing or change the way you look at the problem and situation.
By working out what you value, what you really want, and understanding that it could all change at any moment, you have to accept yourself for who you are and live in the moment. This is the swiftest way to self-fulfillment.
Self-fulfillment needs gratitude, self acceptance and understanding to thrive. Without them, it is hard to really embrace that feeling of unlimited contentment.
The most important thing you need to know is that you can overcome any adversity, no matter how big or small. The biggest illusion about self-fulfillment is that it is eternal and endless, it's not. It comes and goes with the tides but embracing those key moments and really appreciating them are what give you the energy and strength to overcome any adversity.
More About Finding Fulfillment in Life